Saturday, April 1, 2017

Statement From A.G. Schneiderman On Trump University Settlement

   “Today's final approval by a judge of our Trump University settlement will provide relief – and hopefully much-needed closure – to the victims of Donald Trump's fraudulent university. Trump University's victims waited years for compensation, while President Trump refused to settle and fought us every step of the way - until his stunning reversal last fall.

“In particular, I am pleased that we were able to ensure that members of the class action settlement will receive an even higher settlement than originally anticipated.”

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Volkswagen To Pay New York $32.5 Million – Marking First-Ever NY State Environmental Enforcement Penalty Against An Automaker For Emissions Violations

With The Federal Government Proposing Rollbacks In Environmental Regulation, VW Case Paves Way For State Enforcement Of Tougher Auto Emissions Standards
Volkswagen, Audi And Porsche Will Pay $157 Million To Ten States – Including $32.5 Million To New York – In Environmental Penalties For Violating State Emissions Standards By Selling Over 570,000 Excessively Polluting Sedans And SUVs
Volkswagen Will Increase Investment In Electric Vehicle Market By Committing To Offer For Sale Three New Electric Car Models In New York By 2020, Including Two Electric SUVs – Up From One Model Now
    Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Porsche AG, as well as their American subsidiaries, have agreed to pay over $157 million to ten states – including $32.5 million to New York – to settle the environmental lawsuits first filed last summer by New York and Massachusetts challenging the companies’ secret use of unlawful “defeat device” software in their vehicles – software that caused tens of thousands of tons of excess harmful pollutants to be emitted into the air in New York and other states.
The settlement marks the first time New York and the other settling states – all of which have adopted California’s stringent vehicle emission standards – have secured environmental penalties from an automobile manufacturer under their own state auto emissions laws.  Historically, enforcing vehicle emission standards has been done primarily by the federal government.  Setting this precedent is particularly vital now, when President Trump has vowed to defund federal environmental enforcement and undo federal environmental protections, which would leave states like New York and California as the first line of defense for the environment. New York will continue to enforce the tough auto emission and greenhouse gas standards established by California, and intends to oppose any effort by the federal government to roll back EPA emission standards currently in place.
“Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche tried to pull off an extraordinarily cynical corporate fraud – deceiving hundreds of thousands of consumers, pumping thousands of tons of harmful pollution into our air, and flouting New York and federal environmental laws designed to protect public health,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This went on for nearly a decade, for no other reason than their bottom line, so the companies could avoid the expense of engineering cars that would actually meet our environmental standards. Adding insult to injury, they marketed these dirty vehicles as environmentally-friendly and technologically-advanced – not only deceiving consumers and harming our environment, but also undercutting the sales of their law-abiding competitors.”  
“But Volkswagen was caught – and today’s settlement means we’ve now held them to full account,” Attorney General Schneiderman continued. “The companies are already paying billions of dollars in consumer relief, environmental mitigation funds, and criminal and civil penalties as a result of our earlier state, federal and private settlements. Now, this state environmental penalty makes clear that no company – however large or powerful – is above the law in New York.  As we’ve made clear, if the federal government fails to do its job, I will continue to enforce our state’s environmental laws and hold accountable anyone who violates them – to ensure New Yorkers’ public health and environment are protected.”
“We are once again continuing our unwavering commitment to enforce our state’s strict air quality standards against any company that violates our environmental laws.” said Governor Cuomo. “This state has a long track record of holding polluters accountable and this landmark settlement is a stern reminder that New York and its regulators will use ever legal means possible to protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers.” 
Crucial to New York State’s enforcement action – and the precedent it sets – is the substantial size of this settlement; the $32.5 million in penalties Volkswagen will pay New York for emissions cheating represents the largest air pollution fine ever obtained by New York State. Amounting to over $1,250 per defeat-device-equipped Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen diesel vehicle sold or leased in the state – and in addition to the amounts the companies have already agreed to pay – this penalty will serve to deter other companies considering breaking New York’s environmental laws. The monies, in conjunction with other remedial payments Volkswagen has agreed to pay to offset the pollution caused by the operation of its illegal defeat device-equipped cars, will fund environmental and other government programs across the state.
The settlement announced today caps a series of settlements New York and other states have reached with Volkswagen over its deployment of illegal defeat devices:
  • In June 2016, a coalition of over 45 jurisdictions, led by New York, settled their consumer deception claims against Volkswagen, for a total of approximately $570 million, with $31.8 million going to New York alone.
  • Volkswagen also agreed to establish a national $2.9 billion fund to mitigate the environmental damage caused by their defeat-device-equipped vehicles’ excess pollution; over $127 million of that fund will be directed to New York for air quality improvement plans in the state.
  • With the settlement announced today, New York will receive a total of $193 million in penalties and environmental remediation funds, as a result of the Attorney General’s vigorous enforcement of state and federal environmental law against Volkswagen.
Also as part of today’s settlement, Volkswagen has agreed to substantially increase its commitment to New York’s emerging electric car market. The agreement requires Volkswagen to – by 2020 – at least triple the number of electric car models its Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi brands offer to New Yorkers from one model to three, including two electric SUVs. This commitment will further increase consumer choice and spur pollution-reducing electric car sales. Further, as part of the related class action, federal and state settlements, Volkswagen will provide consumers who purchased or leased a 2.0 liter vehicle the option of a buyback or fix of the vehicle’s emissions systems, plus thousands of dollars in restitution, and as part of a settlement that is currently awaiting court approval, Volkswagen will provide substantial compensation to consumers who purchased or leased a 3.0 liter vehicle and is committed to fix the emissions systems of those vehicles or eventually repurchase them.
This multistate settlement agreement was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and will be further memorialized in consent judgments to be filed in New York and other state courts. The other states joining today’s settlement include Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Referred to as “Section 177 States,” New York and the other states settling with Volkswagen today have all incorporated into their state law the more stringent auto emissions standards established by California, as permitted by Section 177 of the federal Clean Air Act.
“Today’s announcement of the multi-state settlement with Volkswagen demonstrates New York State’s commitment to clean air and our ongoing efforts to safeguard air quality for the benefit of communities statewide,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC will continue to aggressively enforce our environmental laws and ensure companies do not put the health of the environment and our residents at risk by cheating our regulations which are in place to reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change.”
Attorney General Schneiderman’s and the other states’ lawsuits followed an extensive investigation by a multistate coalition of over 40 states and other jurisdictions, led by New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Tennessee, Oregon, and Washington. New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation and other state environmental agencies provided important assistance with the investigation.
As alleged in Attorney General Schneiderman’s complaint, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche sold more than 570,000 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles in the United States equipped with “defeat device” software intended to circumvent applicable emissions standards for certain air pollutants. Once installed, the software activates required emissions controls during a car inspection, but deactivates those controls during regular driving, effectively falsifying the inspection results and allowing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions up to 35 times the legal limit. The automakers installed defeat devices in several generations of US-market Volkswagen and Audi diesel engines that equipped over a dozen models, including flagship Audi luxury sedans and high-performance Porsche SUVs, with sales eventually totaling over 25,000 vehicles in New York, before these vehicles were pulled from the market in 2015.
Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche resorted to the illegal defeat devices because of their inability to develop emissions control systems that would comply with applicable standards, while still maintaining the performance and durability they promised to consumers and regulators. In other cases – for example, on the high-end V6 diesel engines that equipped the Porsche, Volkswagen and Audi SUVs and Audi luxury sedans – the automakers also installed defeat devices to compensate for the companies’ unwillingness to include a large enough emissions-control-fluid tank or reduce the intervals between tank refills, which they believed would turn off diesel car buyers. In these vehicles, the defeat devices limited dosing of the emissions-control-fluid, again driving up harmful NOx emissions far past their legal limits.
Volkswagen and Audi researched the law and previous enforcement cases before embarking on their defeat-device strategy. They knew that what they were going to do was illegal, and that they would face government enforcement and sanctions if caught.
Attorney General Schneiderman’s June 2016 complaint further alleged that the defendants engaged in an extensive cover-up of their illegal conduct. In 2014, researchers at West Virginia University alerted authorities that these diesel cars emitted much more NOx when driven on the road than they did when tested on equipment used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Volkswagen and Audi then tried to cover up the problem through sham recalls that they knew would not meet the required standards; repeatedly failed to disclose to regulators the true reason – the defeat devices – for the discrepancies; and only confessed to the defeat devices once it became inevitable that the regulators would discover them. The lawsuit alleged that managers at the highest levels of the company – up to and including former CEO Martin Winterkorn – were aware of or participated in this cover-up.
The detailed allegations of Attorney General Schneiderman’s complaint constituted the first public account by any law enforcement officer in the United States of just how systematic and wide-ranging Volkswagen’s fraudulent conduct was.  Attorney General Schneiderman demonstrated that the fraud was not the work of an isolated handful of lower-level engineers, but deliberate corporate behavior, reaching the highest levels of the company, across several different divisions, and lasting nearly a decade. The detailed allegations in the New York and Massachusetts complaints were essentially acknowledged by Volkswagen when it pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in early 2017.
NOx pollution presents grave risks to human health. It contributes to the formation of harmful ground-level ozone (smog) and soot. Exposure to smog and soot is linked to a number of respiratory- and cardiovascular-related health effects, including premature death. Children, older adults, people who are active outdoors (including outdoor workers), and people with heart or lung disease are particularly at risk for health effects related to smog or soot exposure. Nitrogen dioxide formed by NOemissions can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, and may also contribute to the development of asthma in children. Attorney General Schneiderman’s complaint alleges that thousands of tons of NOx were illegally spewed onto streets around the country, many of them in low-income communities that are disproportionately situated near major roadways, leaving residents at greater risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases, and driving up the formation of harmful ozone in the atmosphere. In New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation issues air quality alerts on numerous days every year because ozone levels make the air unhealthy to breathe.

Wave Hill Events Apr 14–Apr 21

  This weekend, many New Yorkers are celebrating Easter or Passover, important moments in the calendar that connect our spiritual life to the spring season. What better place to experience the connection than at Wave Hill, where the intimate landscape is so naturally well suited to savoring all that we hold dear?

Not all eggs are created alike. Notice the difference between a speckled turkey egg and the cool, blue
eggshell of the American robin. Hear from storyteller Rama Mandel as she shares the story An Egg is Quiet, by Dianna Hutts Aston. Then make your own poetic painting with wax resists in the pastel colors of
speckled eggs. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Discover the fascinating history of Wave Hill’s architecture and landscape on a walk with a Wave Hill History Guide. Hear about the people who once called Wave Hill home, among them Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, Bashford Dean and Arturo Toscanini. Free with admission to the grounds.

Wave Hill’s Curatorial Fellow will lead a tour of the spring exhibitions in Glyndor Gallery. The group show, Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness, explores how women have been treated and portrayed as outcasts in history, myth and biblical legend. In the Sunroom Project Space, Borinquen Gallo’s imaginary hive interior is informed by Wave Hill’s beehives. Free with admission to the grounds.

Not all eggs are created alike. Notice the difference between a speckled turkey egg and the cool, blue
eggshell of the American robin. Hear from storyteller Rama Mandel as she shares the story An Egg is Quiet, by Dianna Hutts Aston. Then make your own poetic painting with wax resists in the pastel colors of
speckled eggs. Free with admission to the grounds. 

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.

MON, APRIL 17    
Closed to the public.

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Wave Hill’s Curatorial Fellow will lead a tour of the spring exhibitions in Glyndor Gallery. The group show, Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness, explores how women have been treated and portrayed as outcasts in history, myth and biblical legend. In the Sunroom Project Space, Borinquen Gallo’s imaginary hive interior is informed by Wave Hill’s beehives. Free with admission to the grounds.

A 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River  and Palisades, Wave Hill’s mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscape, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.

HOURS  Open all year, Tuesday through Sunday and many major holidays: 9AM–5:30PM, starting March 15.  Closes 4:30PM, November 1–March 14.
ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6–18. Free Saturday and Tuesday mornings until noon. Free to Wave Hill Members and children under 6.

PROGRAM FEES  Programs are free with admission to the grounds unless otherwise noted.

Visitors to Wave Hill can take advantage of Metro-North’s one-day getaway offer. Purchase a discount round-trip rail far and discount admission to the gardens. More at

DIRECTIONS – Getting here is easy! Located only 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan, Wave Hill’s free shuttle van transports you to and from our front gate and Metro-North’s Riverdale station, as well as the W. 242nd Street stop on the #1 subway line. Limited onsite parking is available for $8 per vehicle. Free offsite parking is available nearby with continuous, complimentary shuttle service to and from the offsite lot and our front gate. Complete directions and shuttle bus schedule at

Information at 718.549.3200. On the web at


  I’m here with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to make what is really a historic announcement. New York City will close the Rikers Island jail facility. It will take many years, it will take many tough decisions along the way, but it will happen. 

Speaker Mark-Viverito and I have reached an agreement on how to proceed, and we look forward to working together in the years to come to make this a reality. I want to make clear, this is the first time in 85 years since Rikers Island opened in 1932 that the official policy of the City of New York will be to end our efforts on Rikers Island and close the jails there. So, it is a historic occasion that for the first time in 85 years, we have an agreement to move off Rikers Island. 

Now, I emphasize, this will not happen overnight. This is going to take a lot of work. There is not quick fix here and anyone who says there is a quick fix isn’t being honest. 

My colleagues standing with me from my administration – Commissioner Joe Ponte from Correction and the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Elizabeth Glazer. Both of them have been and will be deeply involved in the efforts going forward. They can certainly attest to how much will have to be done to achieve this goal. But we are devoted to making this change.

Rikers Island is an example and an expression of a major national problem. The mass incarceration crisis did not being in New York City, but it will end here. We are going to end the era of mass incarceration by making this important change. It’s very important – before I turn to the Speaker – to acknowledge upfront the crucial role she has played. And everyone knows that Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and I have had a very close working relationship for over three years. We are partners in this work – that doesn’t mean we always agree, but it does mean we are in constant dialog and we’re working to find solutions together. 

The Speaker did something extraordinarily important here by looking constantly for a new solution and pushing hard for a path that would get us to this day. And I will be clear, there were many times I could not see that path – and many attempts we made to find a path off of Rikers Island that we did not find effective – but the Speaker kept not only pushing, but offering more and more ideas and more alternatives to help us get there. Her work has been crucial in bringing us to this day.

I want to thank you, Speaker, for having brought this issue more fully to the attention of the people of this city and having worked so constructively with us to find a solution. I also want to thank Judge Jonathan Lippman, who I’ve had the honor of working with on many issues over many years, for the great work that he has done and the many conversations that he’s had with me and my team that have also been very, very helpful in this process. 

Now, let’s be clear what this is going to take. This begins with lowering the jail population overall. I reminded people as recently as a couple of days ago when we made another announcement on Corrections – we haven to only Rikers, we have other elements to our jail system. We have to reduce our jail population overall, and that begins and ends with reducing crime. 

So, this is how the pieces fit together. Job-one is to reduce crime. Reducing crime means reducing jail population. Any talk of getting off Rikers is meaningless if we don’t keep reducing crime. We came to the conclusion in recent weeks as we looked more and more at the trajectories and as we looked at the extraordinary work the NYPD had done that this goal was more attainable than ever before. I want to remind you, since I took office, because of the extraordinaryy work of the NYPD and our community partners, overall crime in this city is down nine percent. So, in just three years, overall crime is down nine percent. If we can continue on that trajectory, it will allow us to get off of Rikers Island. So, job-one is to continue the work of reducing crime. 

The neighborhood policing model is absolutely essential to this, and then there’s other pieces of the equation that my colleagues have worked on and the Speaker has been a champion of, such as alternative sentencing and bail reform. These have been crucial pillars of reducing jail population the right way while still protecting public safety. And all of this has had an extraordinary impact on the number of people in the jail system. On Rikers Island alone, the population is down 23 percent over the last three years. So, again, a reduction in crime, alternative sentencing bail reform – a number of measures have come together to reduce the Rikers population already by 23 percent in just three-years time. That’s another reason we have confidence that this can be done. 

We’re proud to already have the lowest incarceration rate of any major city in the United States. In our jails, 161 for every 100,000 New Yorkers compared to just 100 miles away in Philadelphia – and I say this with sorrow and with great respect for Philadelphia – but in Philadelphia, 810 people incarcerated per 100,000 residents. So, our city has already shown we can reduce mass incarceration. Now, we’re going to have to go a lot farther.

Today, we’ve got about 9,500 people in custody in our entire jail system. That number must get down to 5,000 people to allow us to get off of Rikers Island. That’s the goal in this whole process – to get our jail population – overall – all of our jails combined – down to 5,000 people. We believe that can be achieved in the next 10 years. That is the goal that the Speaker and I have agreed to – a 10-year timeline. Again, it will take a lot of work and a lot of things have to go right in that 10-year timeline to reduce the overall jail population to 5,000 – and that allows us to get to a point of complete departure of all inmates from Rikers Island. 

Now, it’s a very important thing that the Speaker and I see eye-to-eye on how we’re going to get this process underway, and there’ll be a lot of work ahead with the City Council, but our other partners have to be a part of this as well. The State of New York – we’re going to see both the will and the resources because the State of New York plays a crucial role, of course, through our court system and our Office of Court Administration. We need our courts to work to be evermore efficient to reduce processing time, to move people in and out of jail more effectively – because one of the problems on Rikers is how long people stay. We want to reduce those times constantly. We also need cooperation from our prosecutors, who have been our close partners in the work reducing crime – they also are important to this equation to continue moving along the judicial process as efficiently as possible. 

We talked a couple of days ago – and another crucial piece of the puzzle will be reducing recidivism. So, if you think about – all of these pieces are about bringing down that population constantly. Reducing recidivism is a big piece of the puzzle. And we talked earlier in the week about the five hours of programming a day that we’ll be proving to every inmate. Education and training, the re-entry planning – every inmate will get it from literally the day they arrive on Rikers ready to get off and stay off of Rikers, and all of our jails. And the Jails to Jobs initiative, guaranteeing that anyone who is sentences and serves time in our jail system will leave to a transitional job that will help to get them back on their feet, into long-term employment and away from ay trouble with law enforcement and any further encounter with incarceration. All of these pieces need to work, and we plan on continuing full bore on all of them to achieve our overall goal. 

Now, this is not easy. Before I turn to the Speaker, I want to make this point – this will not be easy. We’re talking about a decade – a decade is a long time. There will be a lot tough choices, there will be a lot of challenges. Some have said to me, can’t you close Rikers right this minute? It would be both impossible and irresponsible to pander to those kind of demands. I want to be very clear, I’m not in the name of political expedience going to tell some people what they want to hear. Closing Rikers – it will happen, but it’ll be a difficult path and it will take us a decade. 

This problem was created over many decades and it will take time to solve, but we fundamentally believe it can be solved. And, for New York City, this is both about continuing the work of ensuring that more and more people in this city can live their lives the right way and stay out with any encounter with law enforcement, stay out of jail have a better life, but it’s also New York’s way of contributing to the larger national effort to end the scourge of mass incarceration once and for all.


The plan is to have at least one prison in each borough close to the courts. This plan will also take at least 10 years to complete, long after both Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito have left office.

What You Should Know By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz

Díaz, Sepúlveda and Crespo Expect Upcoming April 5 Job Fair to be One of the Greatest Ever!

You should know that all indications show that the upcoming Job Fair, organized by Assemblymen Luis Sepúlveda, Marcos Crespo and myself will be one of the greatest ever!

This Job Fair will take place on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 from 6:30pm - 8:30pm at the Sonia Sotomayor Community Center located at 1000 Rosedale Avenue, corner of Bruckner Boulevard Expwy in Bronx County.

As of today, we have received confirmation of 67 businesses and organizations that will be present to participate in this 2nd Job Fair.

In advance, Assemblymen Luis Sepúlveda, Marcos Crespo and myself would like to express our deep appreciation and thanks to all of these organizations for their commitment to helping our unemployed community residents. These organizations are:

1)      Office of State Comptroller Division of Diversity Management
2)      Office of State Comptroller Division of Unclaimed Funds
3)      Avondale Care Group
4)      Santander
5)      MetroPlus Health Plan
6)      Affinity Health
7)      Parkchester Medical
8)      New York City Department of Veteran Services
9)      Wildlife Conservation Society
10)   Dominicanos USA
11)   New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development
12)   RAIN Total Care
13)   Advance Transit Co. Access-Ride
14)   D&J Services
15)   New York Blood Center
16)   The Black Institute
17)   Hostos College
18)   Acacia Network
19)   QSAC
20)   New York Botanical Garden
21)   Montefiore Medical Center Health Profession Opportunity Grant & Montefiore Medical Center Human Resources Department
22)   Krasdale Foods, Inc.
23)   New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services
24)   GVC II, Inc
25)   New York Army National Guard
26)   US Marines
27)   US Army
28)   Cocoon Homecare
29)   US Navy
30)   Heart to Heart Home Care
31)   New York State Department of Labor
32)   Invasion Care Services
33)   Freedom Care
34)   Hope Home Care, Inc.
35)   Workforce Development Institute
36)   New York State Department of Civil Service
38)   West Farms WorkForce 1
39)   United Health Group
40)   RAIN Home Attendant Services Inc.
41)   ADAPT Community Network
42)   Argus Community, Inc.
43)   Office of District Attorney, Bronx County
44)   People Care
45)   YAI
46)   Caring Professionals, Inc.
47)   Madison Square Boys & Girls Club
48)   1199 Job Security Fund & Employment Center
49)   Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club
50)   Cement & Concrete Workers Training & Education Fund
51)   New York City Department of Youth & Community Development
52)   Per Scholas
53)   N.A.I.C.A. Bronx Park Avenue Transitional Housing Program
54)   Lehman College
55)   Active Staffing
56)   Advance Transit Co. Inc.
57)   COHME
58)   Dominos
59)   NYPD
60)   Services of the Underserved
61)   FBI
62)   New York State Troopers
63)   New York City Fire Department
64)   NYC HRA
65)   New York Public Library
66)  Community Healthcare Network
67)  Comunilife, Inc.
My dear reader, if you are looking for a job, don’t miss this golden opportunity!

For further information, please contact the Office of Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda at (718) 931-2620 or the Office of Senator Rubén Díaz at (718) 991-3161.

This is Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Thirty-Four Defendants Charged with Operating Sprawling Narcotics Distribution Ring that Sold Furanyl Fentanyl, Heroin and Cocaine

Operation Spanned New York and Arizona; 
Approximately 10 Kilograms of Narcotics and 17 Guns Recovered

   Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that 34 people have been variously charged in a 357-count indictment with criminal sale of a controlled substance, conspiracy and other crimes for their alleged roles in a narcotics trafficking operation that sold heroin and cocaine, both in Brooklyn and beyond. The case also involves alleged sales of furanyl fentanyl, a relatively new and potent opiate analog which is not yet classified as a controlled substance under New York State law.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The indictment describes a sprawling narcotics ring that operated from Brooklyn across the city, the state and the country. Those who push these deadly poisons on our streets, concerned only with their own lucrative profits, devastate the communities where they operate and feed the disease of addiction, which ultimately touches all of us. Drug analogs, like the furanyl fentanyl in this case, highlight a dangerous gap in our narcotics laws that we will work to address with our partners in Albany.”
Commissioner O’Neill said, “These charges today mark the end of a far-reaching investigation into the illegal distribution of narcotics all over New York City. NYPD investigators will keep working hard along with our state and federal law enforcement partners to send a strong message to gangs, drug traffickers and all those who prey on New Yorkers: This activity is not acceptable in any of our neighborhoods. And through precision policing, we will continue to target the criminals responsible for this behavior.”
The Acting District Attorney said that most of the defendants were arrested and arraigned this week and last week before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Foley on a 357-count indictment in which they are variously charged with first-, second- and third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, first-, second- and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second- and fourth-degree conspiracy and related counts. The top count in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. [See addendum for the full list of defendants.]
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the indictment, between June 2016 and March 2017, the defendants participated in a narcotics distribution operation that spanned all of New York City, some upstate New York counties, and Phoenix, Arizona. The investigation relied on court-ordered electronic intercepts as well as physical and video surveillance. Various members assumed different roles and the ring had a hierarchy in its supply and distribution operations.
Jerome Horton was the head of the Brooklyn-based distribution operation, according to the investigation, with Willie Billingslea directly below him. They allegedly had a number of redistributors who purchased and resold heroin and cocaine in amounts ranging from five to 800 grams. The alleged redistributors included Christopher Corley, Brian Davis, Stephone Nottingham, and Gary Felton.
The primary supplier of the ring was allegedly Nigel Maloney, who was based in Phoenix and would mail heroin and cocaine to Warren Appolon, who operated out of his home in Jamaica, Queens. Appolon is accused of supplying the narcotics to Billingslea, who worked on behalf of Horton. When that supply chain was not enough to satisfy the high demand of the ring, the investigation revealed that the members of the ring sought additional suppliers. Joseph Raffone and Kristian Cruz allegedly served as secondary suppliers of heroin and furanyl fentanyl, apparently referred to as “White China” and received in bulk through the mail.
Furanyl fentanyl is a highly potent opiate that can be stronger than similar drugs and is often cheaper than heroin – it is an analog of the opiate fentanyl. Based on its slightly different chemical composition, it is not currently a controlled substance under New York State law, although the federal government listed it as a Schedule I controlled substance in November 2016. The transactions involving this substance have been charged as attempted sales, based on the defendant’s belief that the substance was actually heroin or a controlled substance.
It is alleged that Horton, Billingslea and their co-conspirators stored narcotics and sales proceeds under floor boards, in storage rooms and other locations. They also utilized vehicles equipped with elaborate hiding spaces (or “traps”) to store and transport the drugs. Customers contacted members of the operation by making phone calls or sending text messages to arrange transactions. The sales were typically completed during hand-to-hand transactions in vehicles, in buildings or on the street, throughout New York City, according to the indictment. As alleged, when dealers ran out, they contacted the above-mentioned ringleaders and arranged for the pick-up of new supplies, at which point outstanding debts were also settled.
During the course of the investigation, a total of 2.455 kilograms of cocaine, 1.704 kilograms of heroin and 4.581 kilograms of furanyl fentanyl were recovered. Transactions relating to additional narcotics were identified through communications intercepted pursuant to court order. In addition, 17 operable firearms were seized in the course of the investigation.
The Acting District Attorney thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Queens District Attorney’s Office for their assistance with the investigation.
The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detective Bureau’s Brooklyn North Gang Squad Detective Paul Molinaro, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Michael Kemper, Captain Craig Edelman and Lieutenant Vincent Terrano.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Ashlyn Miranda, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Adam Wolk, of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Jonathan R. Sennett, Deputy Chief, and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, VCE Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.
An indictment is merely an accusation and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.
Defendant Addendum
Nigel Maloney, 49, of Phoenix, Arizona
Warren Appolon, 46, of Jamaica, Queens
Jerome Horton, 47, of East New York, Brooklyn
Willie Billingslea, 43, of East New York, Brooklyn
Brian Davis, 29, of Brownsville, Brooklyn
Stephon Nottingham, 30, of Canarsie, Brooklyn
Gary Felton, 30, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Kristian Cruz, 21, of the East Village, Manhattan
Joseph Raffone, 38, of Ridgewood, Queens
Chareefe Watkins, 30, of Brownsville, Brooklyn
Marion Trombley, 28, of Cobleskill, NY
Basilio Hidalgo, 32, of East Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Christopher Corley, 40, of Freeport, NY
Jerome Eddie, 41, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Jackie Hillard, 43, of Ronkonkoma, NY
Taivon Wise, 35, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Ksun Hodgson, 34, of East New York, Brooklyn
Theo Jones, 33, of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Anthony Edwards, 32, of Brownsville, Brooklyn
Micky Hilton, 36, of Rockville Center, NY
Kye Robbins, 30, of Brownsville, Brooklyn
Alonzo Cunigan, 35, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Henry Bannister, 50, of Harrisburg, SC
Zakierfrare Scott, 39, of Harrisburg, SC
Oscar Murphy, 29, of Harrisburg, SC
Donnell Scott, 47, of Peekskill, NY
Dorian Brooks, 47, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn 
Gregory Campbell, 45, of Brownsville, Brooklyn
Miles Knight, 30, of Greensboro, NC
Jerome Harris, 30, of Canarsie, Brooklyn
Kenneth Christian, 44, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Antoine Leveque, 36, of Clifton, Staten Island
Gregory Boyd-Davis, 33, of Queens Village, Queens
Robert Meredith, 32, of Ditmars, Queens

Member Of Bronx Gang Pleads Guilty To Murder And Racketeering Conspiracy

   Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that today ELIJAH DAVILA, a/k/a “Montana,” pled guilty to committing the murder of Pablo Beard, participating in racketeering and narcotics conspiracies, and committing a firearms offense, all in connection with a violent street gang known as the “Taylor Avenue Crew” or “Bugatti,” which is based primarily in and around the New York City Police Department’s 43rd Precinct in the Bronx, New York. As part of his guilty plea, DAVILA admitted to shooting and killing Pablo Beard, in the vicinity of Leland Avenue in the Bronx. DAVILA faces a mandatory minimum term of 40 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison, and will be sentenced before United States District Judge Katherine Polk Failla on July 13, 2017.
Manhattan Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Elijah Davila and the Taylor Avenue Crew wrought havoc in their Bronx neighborhood, selling drugs and committing acts of violence. As he admitted today, as part of his racketeering and drug crimes, Davila murdered Pablo Beard. We are committed to bringing federal prosecutions like this one to reduce violent crime and drug dealing in our neighborhoods.”
According to the Indictment and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the plea proceedings:
DAVILA was a member of the Bronx-based street gang known as the Taylor Avenue Crew or Bugatti, and in that capacity committed the murder of Beard. From at least 2008 to September 2015, members and associates of the Taylor Avenue Crew enriched themselves by selling drugs, such as “crack” cocaine, and committed acts of violence, including murder and attempted murder, against various people, including rival gang members, rival drug traffickers, and innocent bystanders. As part of this enterprise, members and associates of the Taylor Avenue Crew – including DAVILA – killed and attempted to kill others individuals. On March 3, 2015, DAVILA shot Beard to death in the vicinity of 1504 Leland Avenue.
Mr. Kim praised the work of the New York City Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Homeland Security Investigations. He also thanked the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office for their participation and support in this case.

Staten Island Man Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Defrauding Investors Of Over $2 Million

   Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that EDWARD J. SERVIDER, a/k/a “Nick Halden,” pled guilty to defrauding approximately 100 investors of over $2.4 million through his firm EJS Capital Management, LLC. SERVIDER pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Edward Servider lured investors into his scheme by falsely telling them he had achieved high annual rates of return through his Forex trading. In fact, he never made a single trade or achieved any returns for any of his nearly 100 investor-clients. Instead, he used his investors’ money to pay for personal luxuries like hotels, cars, and an engagement ring. I want to thank the FBI for their great work in putting a stop to this fraud.”

According to allegations contained in the Complaint and the Indictment filed against SERVIDER and statements made in related court filings and proceedings:

In March 2013, SERVIDER set up a retail foreign currency exchange (“Forex”) trading firm, called EJS Capital Management, LLC (“EJS”), in Brooklyn. SERVIDER and his business partner (“CC-1”) ran EJS from March 2013 through July 2014. EJS employed salespeople (“cold callers”) who made unsolicited telephone calls to prospective investors. SERVIDER and the EJS cold callers told prospective investors that their funds would be used to trade in Forex transactions, and provided them with a “performance report” that falsely claimed that between 2010 and 2013, EJS had achieved gross annual returns for its investors of approximately 18 percent, 22 percent, 49 percent, and 77 percent (the “EJS Performance Report”). In truth, EJS had never conducted any trading or achieved any returns for its investors. To sustain the fraud, SERVIDER directed EJS employees to send account statements to the EJS investors, falsely showing positive returns on their investments.

In fact, instead of using the investor funds to execute Forex trading, the majority of the moneys was misappropriated and used to pay SERVIDER and CC-1’s personal expenses and purported business expenses for EJS. For example, SERVIDER used investor funds to purchase an engagement ring, to lease a BMW vehicle for his girlfriend, and to pay for hotel rooms, rental cars, and parking tickets.

SERVIDER, 29, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, which carries a maximum term of five years in prison and a maximum fine of the greatest of $250,000, twice the gross gain from the offense, or twice the gross loss from the offense. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

SERVIDER’s sentencing is scheduled for July 27, 2017, at 4:00 p.m.

Mr. Kim praised the work of the FBI, and thanked the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission for its assistance.